Celebrating 10 Years with KDE

Of course I am using KDE software much longer. My first Linux distribution, SuSE 6.2 (the precursor to openSUSE), came with KDE 1.1.1 and was already released 19 years ago. But this post is not celebrating the years I am using KDE software.

Exactly ten years ago, dear Albert committed my first contribution to KDE. A simple patch for a problem that looked obvious to fix, but waiting for someone to actually do the work. Not really understanding the consequences, it marks the start of my journey within the amazing KDE community.

Bug Triaging and Quality

In the following ten years, I contributed to or resolved thousands of bugs in kdelibs, systemsettings, and various other KDE software. Much of the passion to triage and tackle bugs do I owe Darío Andrés, the original author of our bug triaging guide. I have not heard from him later, but hope he does well.

Long before we had a continuous build service, I used to build nearly all KDE software with a self-written script, monitoring its output for build errors and newly introduced compiler warnings. Someone surely remembers my constant mails about failing builds and other issues I felt responsible for as part of the quality assurance in the KDE team.

Theming and Decorations

Besides tackling wierd crashes, I was also active in UI polishing, freeing our code from hard-coded spacings, colors, font or icon sizes, using my own Qt widget style Skulpture and a specially crafted color scheme as a testbed. Not that dark themes and HiDPI displays were common ten years ago; I just always liked the full control of the user over his software. After all, UI stands for User Interface.

The Skulpture style came with its own simple KWin window decoration. For those not satisfied with its look, I ported and improved the Dekorator theming engine, and even created a version of Emerald (the Compiz/Beryl decorator) for KDE4, called Smaragd, which has recently been ported to Plasma 5. Once installed, it gives Plasma 5 users access to over thousand window decoration themes.

Applications Porting and Releasing

Apropos porting: Hopefully my porting status page was useful for contributors to decide where to help, and for users to decide when to switch. Besides tracking porting progress, I helped porting small utilities, such as KCalc, KCharSelect, KCron, KMag, and KRuler, but also bigger applications, such as KmPlot, KolourPaint, and KTurtle. You might notice a slight bias towards math and graphics applications 🙂

The longer you are part of a community, the more responsibilites you are going to accept. Being the maintainer of a few KF5 frameworks is not exactly exciting. But a year ago, I got the opportunity to help Albert with KDE Applications releases, learning about the release process, including tagging, packaging tarballs, and posting announcements. Creating a release is a nice way to see all the fruits of the work of many contributors coming together.

So what am I going to do in the next ten years? If you had asked me that question ten years ago, I could not have given you an answer, and I am glad I cannot give you answer today. What is so special about the KDE community is that it constantly gives you new problems to tackle, and I hope I will be able to report in ten years which of them we mastered.